Unwins Seeds

March 2013

07 March 2013 | Posted in Gardening by The Unwins Family

Warm sunshine, thick fog, hard frost and driving rain! Happy March!

This sort of weather is to be expected in early March but it’s still a bit confusing for us ...and our plants.

 I’m longing to get seeds sown but just as I get ready to make a start the weather changes. My unheated greenhouse has registered temperatures up in the 30’s centigrade and down as far as -4c.Too much of a fluctuation to chance tender seedlings.

I love growing from seed so I’m poring over the seed catalogues for any gems that I’ve missed. Colourful hardy and half-hardy annuals are my absolute favourites.

I’m also stocking up on nematodes to get rid of pests such as slugs and vine weevil.

Vine weevil get in everywhere, I came down for breakfast this week and found a huge one wandering about in the kitchen sink!!! I’m not ashamed to admit that I turfed it out of the sink and into a very watery grave in a jam jar!

I’m tolerant of most wildlife but NOT vine weevils; they decimate plants such as primroses and heucheras and can even feast on hedging plants such as young yew.

Seeing the adults near your plants is bad enough but the horrid C-shaped grubs hide away in the soil and chomp at plant roots, before you know it your prized plants are stone dead.

It’s easy to tell vine weevil damage:  Above ground the leaves have small notches nibbled out of the edges, while below ground all the plant’s roots will have been eaten away.

Nematodes are microscopic, you mix them with water and water them in to warm soil and they target specific pest such as slugs or vine weevils killing them from the inside out-it’s a brilliant if rather gruesome concept!

As well as pondering pests and the weather I’ve been trying to decide where to put a new compost heap. I’m a committed composter but even I don’t really want to be gazing at a compost heap all summer.

I cleared out the old compost heap back in January when weather was still relatively mild. I’ve spread all the good compost. Some went on the borders, some in my sweet pea trench and some on my tiny veg plot.  I was left with just a few papery stems from spent annuals. So these have formed the basis of a new heap.

But the jury is still out on where the new heap will be sited... I don’t want it to be too near the house because out in this rural location rats and mice are major pests; a nest of rodents outside the back door is simply too close for comfort!

I do have a very small metal composting bin so for now that is home to the heap... but it certainly won’t be adequate all year.

I may make a ‘hot heap’ layers of manure and green waste and grow my courgettes or marrows on top, both will like the warmth but will I enjoy the pungent whiff of the heap? It may be back to the drawing board on that one!


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